INTERNATIONAL NEWS: THIRD WEEK OCTOBER
Tendencies and Perspectives
Gates: No sensitive info in WikiLeaks Afghan papers. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the unauthorized release of some 70,000 classified documents about the Afghanistan war did not reveal sensitive information, but could endanger Afghans who helped the United States, U.S. media reported. Gates also said disclosing the names of cooperating Afghans, who could become targets for the Taliban, could cause "significant harm or damage to national security interests of the United States.(Reuters 17 10 10)
U.S. military, civilian officials claim progress in Afghan war. With a year-end report card coming due, top U.S. military and civilian officials in Afghanistan have begun to assert that they see concrete progress in the war against the Taliban, a sharp departure from earlier assessments that the insurgency had the momentum. View Only Top Items in This StoryThey describe an aggressive campaign that has killed or captured hundreds of Taliban leaders and more than 3,000 fighters around the country in recent months, and has pressured insurgents into exploring talks with the Afghan government. At the same time, they say, the Afghan army is bigger and better trained than it has ever been(The Washington Post 16 10 10)
US rules out negotiations with Mullah Omar. The Obama administration has categorically ruled out having any talks with Taliban leader Mullah Omar, even as it announced its support to the re-launched peace process by Karzai government in Afghanistan. "Our focus on Mullah Omar from a US standpoint is based on his complicity in the support of al-Qaida that led to the plot of 9/11 (The Times of India 18 10 10)
U.S. says Iran has a role in Afghan talks. The United States recognises that Iran has a role to play in resolving the Afghan conflict, U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke said, as Tehran joined talks with a high-level group on Afghanistan for the first time." Holbrooke told a news conference, adding that Washington saw no objection to the presence of its long-time foe at the talks."We recognize that Iran, with its long, almost completely open border with Afghanistan and with a huge drug problem ... has a role to play in the peaceful settlement of this situation in Afghanistan."The United States has periodically accused Iran of helping insurgents in Afghanistan. Tehran denies supporting militant groups there and blames the instability on the presence of Western troops. Tehran now has growing economic influence in the country, especially in western Afghanistan via cross-border trade. Violence in Afghanistan has soared to its highest levels since the Taliban were ousted by U.S.-backed Afghan forces in 2001. More than 2,000 foreign troops have died since the start of the war, and more than half of those in the last two years (Reuters 18 10 10)
U.S. says Chinese businesses and banks are bypassing U.N. sanctions against Iran. The Obama administration has concluded that Chinese firms are helping Iran to improve its missile technology and develop nuclear weapons, and has asked China to stop such activity, a senior U.S. official said. The official said the Obama administration thinks that the companies are violating U.N. sanctions, but that China did not authorize their activities. The Obama administration faces a balancing act in pressing Beijing to stop the deals and limit Chinese investments in Iran's energy industry. China thus becomes the last major economy with significant investments in Iran's energy industry. The administration wants to make progress in efforts to dissuade Iran from building a nuclear weapon and to convince other powerful states that China is not receiving lenient treatment because of its energy needs. Is part of a worldwide effort by the Obama administration to persuade countries to push Iran to enter into negotiations over its nuclear program. China's involvement in Iran's energy sector and the role that some of its companies are believed to be playing in Tehran's military modernization could disrupt U.S.-Chinese relations. After the U.N. Security Council authorized enhanced sanctions against Iran in June, the United States, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada passed laws to further restrict investment in Iran's energy sector. "China now is the only country with a major oil and gas industry that's prepared to deal with Iran," the U.S. official said. "Everyone else has pulled out. They stand alone" (The Washington Post 18 10 10)
U.S.-Pakistan dialogue faces prickly issues. President Barack Obama and his national security team discussed the need to ramp up pressure on extremist safe-havens in Pakistan before meeting with Pakistani officials participating in talks on broadening bilateral relations. Officials will discuss everything from water to energy in the three days of talks, but the dominant element was the ongoing counterinsurgency campaigns in the Afghan-Pakistan border region and the strain the conflict has put on bilateral relations. Analysts anticipated little movement on security matters because of widely differing strategic interests. Key issues were a multi-year U.S. military assistance package for Islamabad and floods that inundated an Italy-sized swath of Pakistan in August, causing $9.7 billion in damages. The strategic dialogue, which began with a first round in March, comes as the two sides work to repair relations strained by the September 20 cross-border incursion. The incursion came amid ramped-up U.S. drone attacks on northwest Pakistan and U.S. criticism of Pakistani failure to aggressively pursue al Qaeda militants (Reuters 20 10 10).
Obama mission: Billions to Pakistan, billions from India. The Obama administration is lining up at least $ 2 billion in fresh, new military aid to Pakistan even as it is lobbying for billions of dollars in defense sales to India ahead of the US President's visit to the region early November. The arms bonanza comes just weeks after India's defense minister AK Antony conveyed New Delhi's reservations to Washington about US arms to Pakistan invariably being lined up against India, something even the Obama administration has on occasions recognized. It also comes amid stunning disclosures pointing to direct ISI (and therefore the Pakistani state's) involvement in the 26/11 terrorist attacks on Mumbai. Six Americans were among 172 people killed in the carnage. On top of this, a top Nato official said this week that Osama bin Laden was living in "relative comfort" in Pakistan, protected by locals and some members of the country's intelligence agencies, following up similar charges earlier by secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Despite these developments, the Obama administration evidently places its trust in Pakistan's credentials in the war on terror, and has determined that Islamabad needs to be militarily strengthened to fight extremism. India has finalized nearly $ 10 billion worth of military purchases from the US in recent months. But while India's will be paying hard cash for all these transactions, Pakistan, which was already broke before it was overrun by floods of biblical proportions and reduced to begging, will essentially be getting freebie military hardware from the US in the name of fighting terrorism. The US aid comes despite criticism from Washington that Pakistan's wealthy, including its political leadership, is ducking from paying taxes, and US tax-payers are having to pick up the tab for Pakistan. Instead, the Pakistani delegation is coming to Washington with a laundry list of demands, including a nuclear deal that will bring it on par with India, greater US role in resolving the Kashmir issue, and taking into account Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan. (The Times of India 19 10 10).
Clinton warns UK defence cuts may undermine Nato. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced fears that the Coalition Government's determination to slash defence spending may threaten the capabilities of Nato. Backed by her Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Mrs Clinton went on to suggest that the cutbacks could mean Britain fails in its commitment by falling short of contributing its fair share (The independent 18 10 10)
Mercosur condems British military drills in Malvinas Islands. Foreign Ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay expressed their concerns about the military missile tests that the UK forces are currently conducting at the South Atlantic Malvinas Islands. Furthermore, the South American ministers gathered in Montevideo, rejected the comments made by British officials indicating that these kind of drills are "routinary and have been taking place for the past 20 years." All ministers signed the declaration as they considered that the United Kingdom's behaviour is clearly violating the "international security codes" (Buenos Aires Herald 18 10 10).
Europe gets new terror threat warning. Saudi intelligence services have warned of a new al-Qa'ida terror threat against Europe, particularly in France, the French government said. The warning from Saudi Arabia is the latest in a series of alerts that have put French security forces and others in high-vigilance mode. French fears that it could be a target of the Maghreb affiliate of al Qaida are based on Paris' historic ties to the region, where it is a former colonial ruler, and recent enmity caused by measures such as the law banning burqa-style veils in streets. France also has soldiers in Afghanistan. A threat from al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula would be unusual for France and Europe. The group is made up of radical Islamists from Yemen and Saudi branches who merged a year and a half ago. (The Independent 18 10 10)
Ban warns against European intolerance of Muslims. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned against a "dangerous trend" of intolerance toward Muslim immigrants in Europe, DPA reported."A dangerous trend is emerging, a new politics of polarization. Some play on people's fears," Ban said at a meeting of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. "They accuse immigrants of violating European values," he added."Europe's darkest chapters have been written in language such as this. Today the primary targets are immigrants of the Muslim faith," Ban said. "Europe cannot afford stereotyping that closes minds and breeds hatred, and the world cannot afford a Europe that does this." (Jerusalem Post 19 10 10)
France clears fuel blockades before pension vote. President Nicolas Sarkozy sent in police to clear access to barricaded French fuel depots and restore supply as trade unions kept up their resistance to a pension reform due for a final vote this week. The center-right government has stood firm through a wave of anti-pension reform action since the summer but the most serious test of its resolve has been ongoing strikes at the country's 12 refineries and riots this week on the fringes of protests in Lyon and a western Paris suburb. The wave of protests -- which drew at least one million people on Tuesday or 3.5 million according to unions -- has become the biggest and most persistent challenge to austerity measures and economic reforms being enacted across Europe (Reuters 19 10 10)
E.U. Suspends Case Against France for Expulsions of Roma. The European Union suspended its disciplinary action against France for the expulsions of Roma migrants, saying that Paris had made sufficient commitments to rectify shortcomings in its immigration laws. The announcement was greeted with dismay by human rights’ groups, who fear that Brussels has handed a public relations victory to President Nicolas Sarkozy and worry about a lack of transparency from his government. The issue developed into a political storm in Europe after Mr. Sarkozy announced in late July that he had ordered the expulsion of illegal Roma and itinerant immigrants along with the dismantling of their camps (The New York Times 20 10 10)
Russia seeks answers on NATO from French, Germans.The leaders of France, Germany and Russia meet to try to cement improved relations and seek common ground over NATO missile defense plans which Moscow sees as a potential threat. Security is a major stumbling block in Russia's relationship with the West and will dominate talks between Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Dmitry Medvedev and Chancellor Angela Merkel in the northern French seaside town of Deauville, ahead of a NATO summit in Lisbon next month. "While the United States and NATO say the plan is aimed at countering a missile threat from Iran, Moscow is concerned it could also be used to counter Russia's long-range nuclear arsenal, weakening its deterrent and leaving it vulnerable. Russia, France and Germany all opposed the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, but ties since then have been strained by France's return to NATO's military wing, Russia's war with Georgia in 2008 and its gas disputes with Ukraine, the key transit route for Russian gas supplies to the rest of Europe. The Obama administration has sought rapprochement with Moscow, NATO membership for ex-Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia is on the back burner, and Russia is pursuing a policy of engagement toward its former Warsaw Pact satellites (Reuters 18 10 10)
Russia Wants to Formalize Relation With E.U. Ahead of a summit meeting between the leaders of Germany, Russia and France, Moscow is asking for regular participation in the European Union committee that is responsible for setting the bloc’s foreign policy. Such arrangements would mark a major change in E.U.-Russia relations, which have been held back because of divisions inside the 27-member bloc over how to deal with Russia. They might also go some way to meet Russia’s calls for a new security architecture, a move aimed at gaining a greater say in strategic issues in Europe. It seems Germany, at least, is prepared to go down that path. When Chancellor Angela Merkel met President Dmitri A. Medvedev of Russia in June near Berlin, both leaders proposed the establishment of a new entity called the E.U.-Russia Political and Security Committee. The new committee would consist of the foreign ministers from Russia and the E.U. states, as well as Catherine Ashton of Britain, the E.U. foreign policy chief. Russia, however, is expected to give something in return for gaining access to E.U. institutions. Mrs. Merkel told Mr. Medvedev in June that Germany wanted Russia to help resolve the continuing conflict in Transnistria, a source of instability on Europe’s south-eastern borders, according to Chancellery and Foreign Ministry officials. Transnistria, which is part of Moldova, a neighbor of the E.U. member Romania, is ruled by a pro-Russian nationalist movement that has been seeking independence from Moldova. Transnistria was “regarded as a pilot project” for better relations with the European Union (The New York Times 17 10 10)
Officials said Mr. Medvedev’s presence at the NATO summit meeting became a possibility only after Moscow decided to withdraw its troops from Perevia, a Georgian town that it had occupied since the brief war between both countries in 2008. Security has long been one of the prickliest issues between NATO allies and Russia. Former Soviet-bloc nations like the Baltics and Poland have found it hard to conceive of Moscow — in Cold War times the enemy that underpinned NATO’s existence — as a potential partner on military questions. Their concerns were reinforced by Russia’s war with Georgia. Russia, meanwhile, has accused NATO of encircling its borders by dangling potential membership before countries like Ukraine and Georgia. (The New York Times 20 10 10).
Russia joined Germany and France in supporting sanctions against Iran if it fails to cooperate with leading international bodies on its nuclear program, the leaders of the three nations said after a two-day summit. The three nations' leaders together called on Iran to adhere to the "requirements" of the United Nations Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency, adding that Iran should know that "the door to dialogue remains open," according to a statement from Merkel's office (Teheran Globe 19 10 10)
Militants storm Chechen Parliament. Militants wearing suicide vests stormed and seized Parliament of Russia's strife-torn Chechnya region, killing at least three policemen and injuring 17 others as they held lawmakers and officials hostage, before being eliminated in a standoff with security forces. Russia fought two wars with Chechen separatists in the 1990s before installing a loyal government there in 2000. In recent years, Grozny has seldom witnessed terror attacks. However, a shootout between Kadyrov's guards and suspected insurgents left 19 people dead in his village in August (The Times of India 19 10 10)
Russia agrees to build 500MW nuclear power station in Venezuela. President Hugo Chávez announced a deal for Russia to build a nuclear power station in Venezuela. (Mercopress 18 10 10).
Merkel says German multiculturalism has failed. Germany's attempt to create a multicultural society has "utterly failed," Chancellor Angela Merkel said, adding fuel to a debate over immigration and Islam polarizing her conservative camp. Speaking to a meeting of young members of her Christian Democrats (CDU), Merkel said allowing people of different cultural backgrounds to live side by side without integrating had not worked in a country that is home to some four million Muslims. The debate over foreigners in Germany has shifted since former central banker Thilo Sarrazin published a book accusing Muslim immigrants of lowering the intelligence of German society. Sarrazin was censured for his views and dismissed from the Bundesbank, but his book proved highly popular and polls showed a majority of Germans agreed with the thrust of his arguments. Merkel has tried to accommodate both sides of the debate, talking tough on integration but also telling Germans that they must accept that mosques have become part of their landscape. The German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) says Germany lacks about 400,000 skilled workers (Reuters 16 10 10)
Germany wins UN Security Council seat. Germany won a seat on the UN Security Council. Germany's victory puts Europe's major economic power and the world's fourth largest economic power on the council. Earlier, Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, said that Germany, if elected, will first "want to use this seat to increase our influence on the reform of the UN... by working constructively and in a creative way with the president of the General Assembly, who's obviously primarily in charge of it." (The independent 18 10 10)
Kurdish rebels tell Turkey: keep your promises or ceasefire is over. Kurdish rebels will end their military ceasefire at the end of the month if Turkey hounds its supporters and prepares for an attempt to rout the group after 26 years of conflict, their leader told. Murat Karayilan said time was running out for the Turkish authorities to pursue a peaceful solution amid suspicions that Turkey was drumming up support from Syria and Iran to rout the guerrilla group, which has entrenched itself in the mountains along Iraq's border with Turkey and Iran."During all of [our] ceasefires, the Turkish state has used these periods to try to surround and destroy us," Mr Karayilan, the de facto leader of the 5,000-strong Kurdish Workers' Party, or PKK, said. The PKK has fought since the 1980s to establish an independent Kurdish state separate from Turkey, but in the face of punishing Turkish attacks has rowed back on its demands and will now settle for cultural and political freedoms in Kurdish-majority areas. The conflict has cost tens of thousands of lives, most of them Kurdish (The Independent 19 10 10)
North Korea may be preparing for third nuclear test: North Korea appears to be preparing for a third nuclear test, a South Korean newspaper said, citing a government source. US satellites detected movements of personnel and vehicles at the location where the reclusive communist state carried out its first two nuclear tests, the Chosun Ilbo said. The Chosun report came as Seoul is preparing to host a Group of 20 summit next month, welcoming world leaders including US President Barack Obama. (The India Times 21 10 10)
China Allows Rowdy Anti-Japanese Protests. Anti-Japan protests over the weekend in Chinese cities are again causing tensions to flare between the two countries. Chinese authorities have allowed rowdy anti-Japanese demonstrations in several cities to defuse simmering public anger over a territorial dispute with Japan and to prevent the frustrations from being turned against the Chinese regime itself, analysts said. Thousands of Chinese joined in sometimes violent protests Saturday, hoisting signs protesting Japan’s claim on what China calls the Diaoyu islands. Japan calls them the Senkaku islands.The Japanese government has called on China’s leaders to end the protests and has said they threaten a reconciliation meeting planned for next month (China Digital Times 18 10 10)
US envoy talks China with the Dalai Lama. A US envoy held talks with Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and voiced support for a peaceful solution with China, officials said, in the first meeting between the two sides in months. "We do not support Tibetan independence. We strongly support dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve differences," the official said on condition of anonymity. It was the first meeting between US officials and the Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, since the Tibetan spiritual leader met with President Barack Obama in February at the White House. He is now 75 and many Western observers believe China's leaders are pursuing a strategy of waiting for his death, hoping that global support will end with him (Beijing Globe 19 10 10)
Pakistani Foreign Minister says Iran has no justification to pursue nuclear weapons. He has urged the neighbouring country to embrace overtures from the US. In some of Pakistan's strongest statements on Iran's controversial nuclear program, Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that he wanted to avoid "another major crisis in the region". Pakistan has a mostly friendly but complicated relationship with Iran's Shia clerical regime. Baluchistan, stretching between the two nations, is rife with insurgency and sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites. Pakistan and Iran in June signed a deal that commits Tehran to selling natural gas from a pipeline. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said at the time that Islamabad would implement UN resolutions on Iran but not unilateral US restrictions (Teheran Globe 19 10 10)
Taliban Elite, Aided by NATO, Join Talks for Afghan Peace. Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say. The discussions, some of which have taken place in Kabul, are unfolding between the inner circle of President Hamid Karzai and members of the Quetta shura, the leadership group that oversees the Taliban war effort inside Afghanistan. Afghan leaders have also held discussions with leaders of the Haqqani network, considered to be one of the most hard-line guerrilla factions fighting here; and members of the Peshawar shura, whose fighters are based in eastern Afghanistan. The Afghan government seems to be trying to seek a reconciliation agreement that does not directly involve Pakistan, which Mr. Karzai’s government fears will exercise too much influence over Afghanistan after NATO forces withdraw. But that strategy could backfire by provoking the Pakistanis, who could undermine any agreement. Mullah Muhammad Omar, the overall leader of the Taliban, is explicitly being cut out of the negotiations, in part because of his closeness to the Pakistani security services, officials said. Afghans who have tried to take part in, or even facilitate, past negotiations have been killed by their Taliban comrades, sometimes with the assistance of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI (The New York Times 20 10 10)
Netanyahu plays down new construction in settlements. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu played down new Israeli construction on land Palestinians seek for a state, urging them to return to peace talks halted over the resumption of settlement building."The discourse about new building is an artificial obstacle," said Netanyahu, who has resisted Palestinian and international calls to extend a partial construction freeze in West Bank settlements. Palestinians charge that settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas Israel captured in a 1967 war, undermines efforts to build a viable, contiguous Palestinian state. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the projects showed Israel was choosing "settlements over peace" and demonstrating "why there are no negotiations today."U.S.-brokered talks began on September 2 but the Palestinians suspended them after a 10-month moratorium on housing starts in West Bank settlements expired on September 26. Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem among 2.5 million Palestinians (Reuters 18 10 10)
New date sought for Paris peace summit: Israel. A planned Israeli-Palestinian summit due to be held in Paris by the end of the month has been rescheduled, the Israeli prime minister's office said, a sign of increased strain over stalled peace talks. The Palestinians called off the direct talks when a 10-month Israeli freeze on new home building in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank expired at the end of September. Netanyahu, who heads a government dominated by pro-settler parties, has so far resisted U.S. pressure to extend the freeze and said last week the Palestinians should recognize Israel as a Jewish state to secure such a gesture (Reuters 16 10 10)
Carter: 'Palestinians living in a cage in Gaza' .Former US President Jimmy Carter said that Palestinians are "living in a cage" in Gaza and that the militant group Hamas must be included in all major efforts for peace. "."Carter was in Syria with an international group of veteran statesmen known as the Elders that sets out to offer "collective influence and experience to support peace building (The Jerusalem Post 19 10 10)
Syria, Saudi Arabia leaders discuss Lebanon tensions. The leaders of Mideast rivals Syria and Saudi Arabia met to discuss rising tension in Lebanon that threatens to break apart that country's coalition government and spark unrest in one of the most volatile corners of the region. The two countries back opposing factions in Lebanon and are concerned that a UN tribunal's investigation of the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri could split its shaky governing coalition. Saudi Arabia was close to Hariri and supports political forces loyal to his son, Saad, who is Lebanon's current prime minister. Syria, which dominated Lebanon for decades, backs Hezbollah, the powerful militant group that shares power in Lebanon's government. Rafik Hariri was killed in a massive truck bombing in Beirut in February 2005 that many in Lebanon blamed on Syria. Syria denies involvement. (The Times of India 18 10 10 )
US announces $60bn arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Billed as America's largest- ever arms deal with a foreign country, US announced its plans to sell up to USD 60 billion worth of aircraft, helicopters and other weapons to Saudi Arabia apparently aimed at sending a strong message to Iran. US was undertaking the sale because it supports its wider regional security goals in the Gulf by deepening its security relationship with a key partner. "It will enhance Saudi Arabia's ability to deter and defend against threats to its borders and to its oil infrastructure, which is critical to our economic interests," the official said. "By increasing our collective capabilities, not only will our partners be able to take on greater multilateral roles, but specifically the Department of Defense will be able to free up US forces in the region, maximizing the effectiveness of our global force posture,"(The India Times 21 10 10)
Iran says ready for nuclear talks if agenda clear. Iran is ready to return to nuclear talks with major powers "as soon as tomorrow," but only if the subject of the negotiations is made clear in advance, a senior official said. Last week, the European Union proposed a three-day negotiation in mid-November between Iran and six powers -- the United States, Russia, France, Britain, China and Germany -- in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency is based. Iran insists it has every right to peaceful nuclear technology and is not seeking a nuclear bomb. It plans to build as many as 20 reactors during the next two decades. Sceptical countries say Iran continues to refuse unfettered access for U.N. nuclear inspectors and is enriching uranium to a level of purity above that needed for civilian power stations, advancing toward the threshold required for an atomic bomb (Reuter 18 10 10)
Tehran frees US businessman held over rebel bomb attack. Reza Taghavi was released from the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran after five rounds of unusual face-to-face talks between Iranian officials and his American attorney – a former US diplomat who ultimately persuaded authorities that his client had no links to a rebel group blamed for a deadly mosque bombing in 2008.This was an apparent attempt by Tehran to press its grievances against Washington (The Independent 18 10 10)
Iran welcomes Chavez as partner against Western "bullies". Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad received his close Latin American ally Hugo Chavez and welcomed the Venezuelan president's support against the western "bullies."Both men are eyed with great suspicion by the United States which has led tougher international sanctions against Iran over the nuclear program fears would lead to a bomb. The leaders of the two major oil exporters inspected a guard of honor before heading into talks which Iranian media said were aimed at boosting cooperation in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors. Chavez is on a 10-day tour of Europe and the Middle East and he secured while in Moscow Russia's agreement to build first nuclear power plant (Teheran Globe 19 10 10).
Iran calls Argentina’s ‘third-country for AMIA trials’ proposal ‘non-feasible’. After President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner had proposed to Iran to try suspects accused of the 1994 AMIA bombing attacks in a third country, Iran's government qualified the proposal as "non-feasible." The rejection to the offer was addressed to the United Nations General Assembly through a letter. Buenos Aires has issued warrants for the arrest of Iranian Defense Minister Ahmed Vahidi and five other Iranians and a Lebanese accused of planning and carrying out the bombing of the AMIA, which claimed the lives of 85 people. Tehran is also suspected to be behind an attack on the Israeli embassy in the Argentine capital in 1992 in which 29 people died (The Buenos Aires Herald 18 10 10).
China 'trying to block publication of UN Darfur report'. Beijing is trying to prevent the release of a report, which says Chinese bullets have been used against Darfur peacekeepers, unnamed UN diplomats say. The report is being discussed by a United Nations committee which monitors sanctions against Sudan, including an arms embargo on Darfur. Beijing says it is vaguely worded and full of flaws. Ceasefires and peace negotiations have failed to end the conflict in the volatile western Sudanese region. Sudan and China are close allies - Beijing has played a key role in developing Sudan's oil industry. The panel has previously claimed that large amounts of foreign arms and ammunition are being trafficked into Darfur and fuelling the conflict between the government and rebel groups. The UN says that about 300,000 people have died and more than 2.6 million displaced by fighting since rebels took up arms in the region in 2003. Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges his forces committed war crimes in Darfur - allegations he strongly denies. His government says the number of casualties in the Darfur conflict has been exaggerated for political reasons and the real figure is about 10,000 (BBC 21 10 10)